Why do we need artificial intelligence in e-commerce?
Think about a shop, a pharmacy, or even a gym open 24/7. There’s always someone there. We need places like that, we want services and products to be available whenever we need them but, at the same time, we know that some person has to work early in the morning, at night, or even during Christmas. E-commerce sites are available 24/7 but they don’t require a shop assistant to be online all day round. There are chatbots that can do that. Simple questions are answers right away, more complicated ones are forwarded to the right specialist, while the customer receives some answer right now. And “right now” is of utmost importance here – people shop online because they want the online shopping experience to be effortless and quick. You add an item to your cart, pay for it, receive it as soon as possible. If a problem occurs, you want it solved right now as well. If you want to wait a few hours or days for a response, you may just as well go to a shop yourself.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are also extremely valuable when it comes to customer data. Having a lot of customers, you also have a lot of data about what they buy, when they buy it, etc. Though at first sight such information doesn’t have to make much sense, believe me, it so does. Machine learning algorithms analyze data to find patterns and predict users’ choices. That’s how you learn what your customers will want to buy next. Smart move, isn’t it? It gives your users a personalized customer experience thanks to accurate recommendations and helps your company increase sales.
It has been estimated that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human. 2020 is not that far away, and if your company is not keeping up, well, quite obviously, it’s falling behind. Big players like eBay and Amazon rely largely on artificial intelligence. That has to mean something.
What are the benefits of artificial intelligence in e-commerce?
Let’s go through an updated list of not six, but nine amazing ways to use AI in e-commerce.
As a shopper, I can tell you that if I try to shop online and search for a phrase and I don’t like the results I see, I’m going to leave. I’m not the only one. Amir Konigsberg, the CEO of Twiggle, confirms that users often abandon e-commerce experiences because the search results displayed are irrelevant. Artificial intelligence or, to be more accurate, natural language processing, comes to the rescue. NLP helps narrow search results to find the most relevant results.
But that’s not all there is to search engines. Comsore estimates that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches. It is also estimated that by 2021, the early adopters that implement visual and voice search into their websites will increase e-commerce revenue by 30%. Voice search is on the rise and it poses new challenges to businesses, but I also mentioned visual search. What about that? Is it something worth paying attention to?
Once again: search results must be relevant. For years, search engines have used metadata and tagging to identify the right images. It was often done manually. Artificial intelligence automates the process of image classification and product tagging to make sure that search results are accurate. And with AI, the images themselves are a data source that allow to precisely identify attributes of products, which then leads to better search results.
Now let’s think about what the user does with a picture. Let’s say Mike sees a navy backpack with a wolf print on it. Somewhere on a picture, he has no idea where to find it, but he likes and wants to investigate. The process of googling the phrase “navy backpack with wolf print” and then going through the results to find the exact same item and the image source is quite complicated comparing to just dragging and dropping the image into the search engine and being given results of items identical, or at least very similar, to the one he’s seen. This way Mike learns that his backpack is sold by company ABC and he visits their website.
Pinterest introduced their visual search tool back in 2015, writing: